The Importance of Breaking in Orthotics.

Hi again! Its Tana here, checking in from behind the front desk at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists. It’s been almost 6 weeks since I first slid my brand new custom molded orthotics into my shoes and that’s exactly where they’ve stayed. The break-in process wasn’t hard, but it definitely taught me a lesson in patience.

Remember when I said I just wanted to bolt out the door and take my brand new orthotics for a nice long run? Well yep by week 2 and a half I was itching to do so, and with a cautious nod from Dr. Thomajan away I went to my favorite spot with “rocks and roots” to give them a test run. It was a balmy 100 degree Monday afternoon. I armed myself with my trusty water bottle and back up over-the-counter inserts too just in case.

After about the first mile or so, I stopped to rehydrate in the heat and went ahead and took the customs off and replaced them with my old trusty Powerstep inserts I got from Dr. Thomajan before I got casted for customs.  I felt great up until this point, but Byron had given me pointers on breaking them in slowly and properly so I erred on the side of caution for the day. If I was going down, it would be heat stroke and not my inserts.

The next day I spent doing a mixture of plyometrics and Pilates and was able to keep the custom inserts in my shoes the entire workout. Never before had I felt so fantastic. I instantly felt taller, stronger, and more powerful. I was ready to go do a long run, I could feel it. Wednesday came and after a full day at the office it was time to finally put the customs to the test. After the first mile, I could still feel that arch high in the middle of my foot, especially on the right foot. I kept at a steady pace, jumped the creek crossing, and powered down a gear or two and set in for a big uphill jaunt. By mile 2, I was sweating but at least I made it to the top. The next challenge was a long trail in the hot, hot sun. My feet were on fire but I kept pushing. By the time I made it to the shade on the other side of the hill I had to sit down.

I had let the fire build up in my arches and as soon as I peeled off the sock on my right foot, a nice chunk of my tender arch came with it. Of course I had gotten a little over confident and left the back up inserts in the back seat of my car (far far away by now). I would just have to go without for the rest of the run. Tenderly I started again, but by the time I made it back to the creek I had to take out the left side too. This time I was at least smart enough to take the custom inserts out at the first hint of a burning flesh smell.  The rest of the trek was interesting to say the least. I spent the next two days dousing my arches in a spray blister protector and walking on the outsides of my feet.

Overall it was not an ideal day on the trail for me, but I luckily I had a recovery day to let my wounds heal before I tried again. The next day at work was quite a challenge though. My feet were sore and I opted to go without the custom inserts for the day. What a difference it makes to have those! By the end of the day my hips and knees were achy. I could barely feel my feet because they were tingly numb. I had to admit, I missed my customs. I ran again in the 100 degree heat but this time I just used my over-the counter inserts. I was a little afraid to repeat my stunt from before and wanted to be able to walk the next day.

Fast forward to present day: I set my ego aside and explored some new trails that were only a mile or two at most and slowly adjusted to my custom orthotics in that fashion. My long run days I prefer to keep my over the counter insert in, but when I need short burst of power and precision I reach for my custom inserts. I must admit I am still working up the courage to take the customs out for a long loop around the Wild Basin preserve. I am also smack dab in the middle of taking up more weight lifting and strength training with a tip of the hat to the Crossfit mentality of workout so I’m noticing a lot more overall soreness in my body. Because of this, I want to keep my feet happy and healthy and I don’t mind rotating shoes and inserts on a daily basis.

Rest assured though, if you see me coffee mug in hand at the front desk with Dr. Thomajan and the whole crew here at Austin Foot and Ankle, you can bet I’ve got my custom inserts in to keep me strong all day. I really love the feeling of balance they offer, and they couldn’t be more perfectly molded than my very own fingerprint. They follow my every step, jump, shimmy, and shake. Yes, sometimes I still want to sleep in them. I hope our patients get a laugh because I can’t count how many times we’ve told them to break in their orthotics slowly and here I am, still nursing the bald spot where my arch used to be.

Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy, and stay hydrated out there! I can’t wait to hear YOUR break in stories! Next on my list is to drag our Scheduling Coordinator Amanda back out with me, since she’s about 12 weeks out from her surgery with Dr. Thomajan. More hysterical updates to come on that I’m sure!

As always, thank you for reading!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists